English History Timeline 1550-1559

Edward VI Jane Grey Queen Mary I Queen Elizabeth I

This timeline gives a chronological listing of the main events in English history for the years 1550 – 1559

The monarchs for this period were
Edward VI to Aug 1553
Jane Grey Aug 1553
Mary I Aug 1553 – 1558
Elizabeth I from 1558


1550 (January)
John Dudley realised that the country could not afford to continue war with France and sent a delegation to France to negotiate peace.
1550 (February)
John Dudley, Earl of Warwick became leader of the Council.
1550 (28th March)
Treaty of Boulogne
This Treaty, signed by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, provided for the return of Boulogne to France for a ransom of 400,000 crowns. The French also agreed to remove troops from Scotland.
1550 (Spring)
Although Dudley believed that financially he had had no choice but to agree peace with France, many in the Council felt that he had sold England short.
1550 (December)
King Edward was betrothed to Princess Elisabeth, daughter of Henry II of France.
1551 (during)
John Dudley became Duke of Northumberland.
1552 (22nd January)
Edward Seymour was executed by beheading on Tower Hill.
1552 (early)
The Book of Common Prayer was re-written by Thomas Cranmer to make matters of doctrine clearer.
1552 (April)
King Edward VI was taken ill with smallpox. He survived but was weakened by the disease.
1553 (Spring)
Edward was taken ill and it became clear that he was dying.
1553 (25th May)
John Dudley married Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII‘s younger sister, Mary, to his son, Guildford Dudley.
1553 (June)
Devise for the Succession
Edward opposed the succession of either of his half-sisters due to their illegitimacy and Mary’s Catholicism. This document passed the succession to Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister, Mary in the event of of there being no legitimate male heir on his death.
1553 (15th June)
Edward summoned his leading councillors and made them sign a declaration to uphold the Devise for the Succession on his death.
1553 (6th July)
Edward died. He was succeeded by Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister, Mary.
1553 (10th July)
Jane was proclaimed Queen of England. She and her husband Guildford Dudley entered the Tower of London to await the coronation. However, Jane declared that she would not allow Guildford to be King and that he would be given the title Duke of Clarence. Guildford was angry and isolated himself from Jane.
1553 (10th July)
Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary Tudor, sent a letter to the Council saying that by the terms of the Act of Succession of 1544 she was now queen. She called for their obedience and loyalty.
1553 (11th July)
Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary Tudor, left Hunsdon and rode to East Anglia where she called for support.
1553 (14th July)
The Duke of Northumberland left London at the head of a force to capture Mary Tudor. However, after he had left London the Privy Council, seeing that popular support was for Mary, decided to support Mary’s claim.
1553 (19th July)
Mary was proclaimed Queen of England.
1553 (19th July)
Jane Grey and her husband were arrested and charged with treason. They were imprisoned in the Tower of London.
1553 (3rd August)
Mary made her formal entry into London. She was accompanied by her half-sister Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves.
1553 (8th August)
Mary’s brother, Edward, was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey.
1553 (August)
Mary ordered the release of the Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner who had been imprisoned during Edward’s reign for being Catholics. Gardiner was appointed Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor.
1553 (1st October)
Mary was crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey by Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester.
1553 (5th October)
Parliament met. Mary had introduced two new pieces of legislation. The first was a proclamation that the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was legal and that Mary was legitimate. The second was a reversal of Protestant laws passed by her half-brother, Edward. This met with more resistance from parliament but did pass. The passage of the act restored church doctrine to the Six Articles of 1539 which included a clause that priests should be celibate. Many had married under Edward VI and were forced to separate or lose their benefices.
1553 (Autumn)
Mary wanted to marry and produce an heir. She considered marrying Edward Courtenay and Reginald Pole. Her cousin, Charles V of Spain, suggested that Mary marry his son, Philip.
1553 (late Autumn)
Mary decided to marry Philip of Spain. The match was unpopular with the people who feared that England would be ruled by Spain.
1554 (February)
Wyatt’s Rebellion
Thomas Wyatt organised a rebellion against Mary’s plan to marry Philip of Spain. The rebels marched on London but were defeated. Wyatt was captured and imprisoned.
1554 (March)
Mary was betrothed to Philip of Spain.
18th March 1554
Princess Elizabeth was arrested and taken to the Tower of London where she was questioned regarding her part in Wyatt’s Rebellion. Mary was worried that Protestant factions would try to put Elizabeth on the throne in her stead.
19th May 1554
Princess Elizabeth was moved from the Tower of London and placed under house arrest at Woodstock.
1554 (23rd July)
Philip of Spain arrived at Winchester in England.
1554 (25th July)
Mary married Philip of Spain.
1554 (September)
Mary was nauseous and had put on weight. Her physician announced that she was pregnant.
1554 (November)
The Heresy Acts were revived. This made it an offence to deny the established religion which was now Catholicism, punishable by death.
1555 (January)
Protestants began to be arrested as heretics. They were condemned to be burnt at the stake if they would not renounce Protestantism.
1555 (April)
Mary invited her half-sister, Elizabeth to court to witness the birth of her child.
1555 (June)
An act was passed that would make Philip regent if Mary died in childbirth.
1555 (June)
Mary retired from court to await the birth of her child. However, no child appeared.
1555 (late July)
It became clear that Mary was not going to have a child.
1555 (August)
Mary’s husband, Philip, left England to command his army against France.
1555 (October)
Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, former Protestant Bishops, were condemned as heretics and burnt at the stake.
1556 (January)
Mary’s father-in-law, Charles V of Spain, abdicated in favour of his son Philip. Mary’s husband was now King of Spain.
1556 (February)
Mary’s husband, Philip of Spain, made peace with France.
1556 (March)
The Dudley Conspiracy
Sir Henry Dudley, cousin of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who had been executed in 1554, tried to rally support in France for an invasion of England to replace Mary as Queen. The plot was discovered and Dudley was forced to remain in exile in France.
1556 (March)
Thomas Cranmer who had been Archbishop of Canterbury and architect of the English Reformation, was burned at the stake.
1556 (March)
Reginald Pole was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.
1557 (March)
Mary’s husband, Philip of Spain, returned to England. He hoped to persuade Mary to support him in a war against France. Although Mary was happy to support her husband, her leading councillors opposed any declaration of war because it would adversely affect English trade.
1557 (Spring)
Reginald Pole’s nephew, Thomas Stafford who was in France, invaded England and took Scarborough Castle. It was believed that he had French support and the plan was to depose Mary.
1557 (June)
England declared war on France in retaliation for the raid on Scarborough. Philip led English troops into France.
1558 (January)
French forces took Calais, England’s last remaining possession in France. The loss severely damaged Mary’s popularity.
1558 (late)
Mary retired from court again, believing that she was pregnant and that the baby would be born in March.
1558 (April)
Mary had still not given birth and it was believed that this was another phantom pregnancy. Mary was in poor health and concerned about her health.
1558 (October)
Mary’s health had continued to worsen and she indicated that her half-sister, Elizabeth should succeed her as queen.
1558 (17th November)
Mary died. Her death is believed to have been caused by cancer of the womb.
1558 (17th November)
Elizabeth became Queen of England, Ireland and Wales after Mary died.
1559 (during)
The Coronation portrait of Elizabeth in her coronation robes was painted.
1559 (during)
Elizabeth turned down a proposal of marriage from her brother-in-law Philip of Spain.
1559 (15th January)
Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey by Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle.
1559 (Spring)
Elizabeth had a close relationship with Robert Dudley and many thought she was in love with him. However Dudley was married to Amy Robsart.
1559 (8th May)
Act of Uniformity
This act made Protestantism the official faith of England but retained certain elements of Catholicism. Church attendance was compulsory as was the use of the Book of Common Prayer.
1559 (8th May)
Act of Supremacy
This act, resisted by a number of bishops, made Elizabeth Supreme Governor of the Church in England. All officials were required to swear an oath to uphold the terms of the act.


Published Jun 25, 2018 @ 11:58 am – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2020). English History 1550 – 1559. https://www.thetimelinegeek.com/english-history-1550-1559. Last accessed [date]

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